'/> Uncommon Hours: Santelli’s Tea Party
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Santelli’s Tea Party

By Bob Sommer
“I’m pretty proud of this” – that was Rick Santelli on CNBC this morning, taking credit for the faux-populist “Tea Party” movement he launched with his infamous rant on Feb. 19.

He continued, “I think from a grassroots standpoint, I’m sure some of the media out there is not going to peg it that way, but isn’t it about as American as it gets – for people to roll their strollers and make their signs and go voice their opinion about the direction of the country?”

Grassroots? Not so much.

The original spark for today’s events – Santelli’s CNBC rant – was, it turns out, the beginning of a carefully orchestrated campaign to undermine the Obama administration, sponsored by the Koch family.

The so-called “official” Tea Party website is sponsored by the American Family Association, and FOX “News” has been pounding away at promoting it for the past few days.

And let’s not neglect CNBC’s interest in pumping up the ratings once again by having Joe Kernan lob Santelli a softball this morning so he could revisit his claim to fame and sound off once more.

Maybe ranting and shouting to the traffic while they sprinkle the contents of Lipton tea bags into storm drains and ponds will help some folks vent frustration for the misery in their lives under a recession bequeathed to us all by the Bush administration. But it’s pretty certain that most of these same people fall within the income levels that qualify them for the Obama administration’s tax cuts.

How much do these "tea parties" matter? As Paul Krugman points out, "[E]verything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party." From nativism to the Second Amendment to homophobia, tea party goers can express their general rage at finding that the party of all these causes was voted out by the American public in a sweeping rejection of their vision of America.

But there’s probably more hype and hyperventilating about today’s tea parties on FOX and CNBC than there will be even by the fringe dupes who swallow their nonsense.

I just wonder if Santelli’s magnamity toward people taking to the streets to “voice their opinion about the direction of the country” also applies to those who protested the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

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